Carpets have become an essence of home décor for many years
now and oriental rugs add that extra exquisite and unique touch to your home décor.
Once upon a time, if you went to buy an oriental rug, it would definitely have
been made from wool or silk. Authentic oriental rugs are still made from wool. However,
there are many fake rugs out there and they’re made from synthetic fibers.
Many people wonder about the differences between synthetic
and wool rugs. The difference can be as clear as night and day.
How to tell if a rug
is wool or synthetic?
Check the labeling or
If you have access to product information about the rug,
check the label of the rug for material list. Generally the label is the back
and at the bottom of the rug. If there is a label, it’s most definitely
synthetic since synthetic materials must be labeled as such. Handmade rugs are
not labeled in this way.
carpets are made from synthetic fibers and about 60% of this synthetic wall-to-wall
carpeting is made out of nylon.
Consider the price
One of the obvious ways that differentiate wool or synthetic
rug is the price difference. If you’re paying a low price, it means you’re
purchasing a synthetic fiber rug manufactured on power looms, an automated
machine. While wool rugs are expensive since they are hand-woven by artisans
and are high quality, lasting for generations.
Back of the rug
Flip the rug over and look at the bottom side. Wool rug has
its back a mirror design of top front meaning the front and the back has the
same decorative design. In synthetic rugs, the back of the rug is plastic and
is glued. Also because the back of the wool rugs are soft, they won’t damage
the flooring underneath but hard plastic backing of synthetic rugs can scratch your
Judge by feel
Another area where wool stands above competing materials is
in the feel of the rug. Wool rugs are soft on both sides. Does it feel soft, almost
buttery? If so, then it is most likely a wool rug. However, if it feels hard,
scratchy and stiff, it’s most likely made from a synthetic material.
The hundreds of knots tied to create the patterns and design
make wool rugs that are hand-woven soft, silky and luxurious to the touch. Their
pile is sturdy, and the rug can maintain its shape for many decades thanks to
its natural spiral construction.
Synthetic rugs will also feel soft to the touch but only
last for few weeks or may be months. Soon they will feel tough and plastic. The
back is hard to the touch and the fringe is sewn on. These materials are
budget-friendly are aesthetically pleasing for a short amount of time. Synthetic
rugs can last up to 5 years with professional cleaning and aren’t resilient to
foot traffic to the point wool rugs are.
Snip and burn
If you own a rug and you’re curious whether it’s wool or
synthetic, snip a few small strands from inconspicuous area. You only need a
small fiber, don’t cut too much. Take tem outdoors and pinch the strand with a
pair of tweezers or paper clip. Light the fibers on fire using a lighter. Take note of how they burn and smell.
If the carpet fibers melt and stick to side of lighter, the
carpet is a synthetic one and if the fibers burn and crumble, your carpet is a
wool carpet. If the burning fiber smells like celery, it is nylon. If it smells
like asphalt, it is olefin. If it smells sweet, it is polyester. If it smells
like burning paper, it is rayon. If it smells like charred meat, it is acrylic.
If it smells like burning hair, it is wool.
Making the choice
Though, at the end of the day, it’s clearly a matter of
personal taste and what material suits you and your lifestyle best! Each type offers certain set of advantages and
incurs a range of disadvantages.